Editorial: A quarantine’s purpose

A QUARANTINE, according to the Cambridge dictionary, “is a period of time during which a person or animal that might have a disease is kept away from other people or animals so that the disease cannot spread.”

Earlier this month, the Department of the Interior and Local Government issued a memorandum ordering a two-week quarantine for all travelers from countries affected by the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), particularly China, its special administrative regions and Taiwan.

Covid-19 is a new respiratory virus first identified in Wuhan City in Hubei province in China. Symptoms include mild to severe respiratory illness with fever, cough and difficulty breathing.

Although not as deadly as the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, with its fatality rate of 10-12 percent, or the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome, with its fatality rate of 34-36 percent, the Covid-19 nonetheless alarmed health officials around the globe because its death toll continues to climb and there is still a lot that is unknown about the virus and how it spreads.

Hence, the quarantine, which, actually, is a precautionary and preventive measure to protect the majority of the population from a potentially debilitating disease, a fact the more than 70 Filipino passengers who arrived from Taiwan at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020, might have overlooked when they created a commotion because personnel of the Bureau of Quarantine and the Department of Health would not let them go home.

To them, the quarantine was a violation of their human rights.

Unfortunately, the law is not on their side.

According to Leo Villarino of the Commission on Human Rights in Central Visayas, “It is rightful for our government to institute measures to protect public health,” citing Article 3, Section 6 of the Philippine Constitution, which states: “The liberty of abode and of changing the same within the limits prescribed by law shall not be impaired except upon lawful order of the court. Neither shall the right to travel be impaired except in the interest of national security, public safety or public health, as may be provided by the law.”

To those affected, the move might have been an inconvenience at the very least. They would rather be in the comfort of their own homes or be in the arms of their loved ones.

But they should well keep in mind that the quarantine is in place to ensure they have a home and family to go home to.